Would you pay to audition speakers

A dealer told me that he will let people audition 1 pair of speakers for free. If you want to hear multiply speakers
he charges 500.00. If you buy a pair of speakers he will credit you back the 500.00. He says he does this so people don't waste his time. He says If someone is serious about purchasing speakers they won't have a problem with the 500.00 deposit. I'm Interested in knowing how the Audiogon community feels about this.
that's in something...

oh, right - "sane", it's inSANE.
I won't pay $500 to audition speakers. They exist to let us audition different brands and we, as customers, should pay him at retail, unless he offers discounts. This has been the practice since day one until the internet came along. In any case, I rather put $500 deposit and borrow the speakers and try them in my home system. Huge speakers would be another story.
It is kind of a crappy attitude, but I can understand why it is his policy. There are an awful lot of people who use the brick and mortar stores as their source for auditioning equipment, when the entire time they are planning on buying their equipment used on Audiogon or Audio Asylum (or where ever they like to buy used and/or demo equipment). Doing so is just plain wrong in my book, as it does indeed "waste his time", as you write, (and wear out his equipment as well).

However, for the $500 deposit, he should allow the client to audition the equipment in their home, since he now has an almost assured sale.
Most so called "audiophile" speakers sound so horrible that you would have to pay me $500.00 to audition them.
A policy like that would be enough to push me out the door, on principle alone. Who'd want to do business with such a person.."wasting his time" - isn't his JOB to market and "show" speakers!?

And what is he so busy doing that customers are a problem for him?

You gotta love someone who is on the "customer service" (related) industry, but hates people....

Would not even consider it .............. take my business elsewhere
If he is in such economic trouble (or so fed up with looky loos) that he is
charging $500 to audition speakers, then his door will soon have a sign that
reads, "Going Out of Business".
I think he just said that cause you have been wasting his time and it was his subtle way of giving you the arm.Many paths to salvation they say.YMMV,Bob
I came across this with a dealer who sold a particular brand of amp. This was long before the internet age where people might take advantage of a dealer and then buy online. I believe the policy applied to models other than the ones he had on demo in the store and had to be brought in specifically for you to audition. His rationale was that once the box for a unit was opened, it had to be sold at a discount even though it was new. So he charged a nonrefundable deposit that could be applied as a credit towards the purchase if you subsequently bought. The manufacturer was aware of this policy when a disgruntled consumer informed them of the store. They didn't approve; however, they said they couldn't do anything about it other than withdraw their products from the store, which they did not want to do.
I'm not too old to remember the day that customers came FIRST and salesmen were knowledgeable, courteous, respectful, and jumped at the chance to help...

Now-a-days salesmen are rude, bothered-to-help, and have no idea about what they are selling or even if they have it in stock...

And we are supposed to wonder why sales have fallen off the cliff -- well, it doesn't take a PhD to see. Vote with your dollar (ie -- go somewhere else).
I suspect it's only used against audiophiles. A "civilian" customer talks and acts differently than us veterans and the dealer can readily discern the difference. Nearly all the successful dealers I've discuss the subject with say they make no money on audiophiles.
well.... I wouldn't pay a car salesman $500. to look at his cars. And, don't see why I (or you) should pay any other salesperson for the 'privilege' of looking at/listening to their equipment. Heck of an attitude for a retailer facing a market slump. This salesman is appallingly arrogant and more than a little delusional.
A deposit on an in-home demo, is another story, however, and a legitimate one.
I might " rent to own" a pair of speakers for $300 a month to see if they work out long term (and with different electronics). Just a thought.
Can you name the dealer?

If not, what is the point of posting this ridiculous poll? I would want to know so I can avoid him and warn others about his policy when it takes into effect and then report the dealer to the manufacturers of the product he carries.
What would you think the manufacturer will do? Especially on the present economic climate, this idea of charging potential buyers for a demo is plainly absurd.

Why don't we boycott this speaker brand that the dealer is carrying and see who will cry in the end? No customers, no demand, no demo, no time wasted!
What is the primary income for the site we are now on. Secondary sales of course of used equipment and some special low price ads for demos or close outs. Honestly I came back to audio as a hobby 7 or so years ago and was I was stunned at the price of components. When I left the hobby most stuff was priced for mere mortals and even I could afford much of it new at full msrp. Discounts and sales were in newspapers and there were plenty of come ons. Now it is completely different. When I awoke I asked friends where I could by a new amp. The answer was- what is an amp? and then those things aren't sold anymore.
Now you really have to ask why would you risk a piece being a lemon or damaged in transit if it were a matter of a couple of hundred bucks at most. Now your lucky to get a good (fill in blajnk for cheap thing) for a couple of hundred. I don't blame retailers but they are destined to fail. If I can save 4 thousand on a piece that would run 8K at full msrp I will do it. The most expensive piece I have bought is an amp for about $3700 I think? It was well used but still available new if you can pay list great for you but it lists for over $12K. I tried to buy it from a distributor and retailer but even his precertified stuff didn't approach affordable. I blame the manufacturers on up for stupid high prices.
It can be done right here in the good old US of A. My miracle of a preamp for instance listed for $500 brand new -the Cary sub brand AE. If the industry wasn't in part an appeal to demonstrate how much you can spend -things would never have gotten to this point. I predict whatever remains of this barely making it business, (NHT quit trying for cripes sake) will be an internet point of sale by the builders themselves. No other system can accomodate such silly extremely obscenely expensive stuff. I was reading about another 5K speaker cable and I just got disgusted. I don't care if you make the best cable that will ever be. I don't know many with that much cash to throw around. You need more than half a dozen customers a year to survive and I'm a convert already and really do think cables are important but Please Stop The Insanity.
I go to a reseller at least once a day on the internet but haven't set foot in a Brick and Mortor for over a year. Lending librarys are inevitable for a fee that is quite objectionable. But even though I read review after review if you don't know someone who has what you are considering you will be flying blind and just praying the buzz the press etc have your taste.
Tell him you are going to buy the speakers used on audiogon, and if you don't like them you will resell them and that won't cost anywhere near $500 if you are paying attention at all.
This is why brick and mortar and many businesses are in trouble they forget about the basic fundamentals of selling. Its called "value". If you offer customers a good value by combining customer service, professionalism and convience you will build a sucessful business. Some customers are tire kickers, some will buy online. But many if they have the financial resources will prefer to purchase from someone who provides time saving service.

If you walk into a store and you know more about audio that the person in the store, then maybe they have not earned the right to be your dealer. On the other hand if you walk into a store and they are able to show you better ways to do things then they may be worth the extra money.

$ 500.00 black mail does not seem like a good way for a dealer to earn your business. I would look elseware. Or buy speakers here and resell if they dont sound good in your system. It will probably still be cheaper.
Would you buy a car without a test drive?

Over the last 8 years I've bought 4 new cars. Each of these cars I took for a test drive and never was I asked to put down some money.

I tried some cars and didn't like them, others were great. The BMW dealer I stick to let me test the drive cars, even some I couldn't afford. He knew I was gonna buy one of the cars. I bought them there because the service offered was good.

A fee of $500 is ridiculous in my opinion. If it was $20 I might do it, but $500 seems outrageous.
A local dealer here does the same thing like this:

You must buy them and audition for less than 2 weeks.
Return them if you don't like them for a refund
less 20% restocking fee.

Same song different day. I shop elsewhere.
If they are expensive speakers for in home audition, and they deliver the speakers to your home, unpack, set them up; than I think $500 is reasonable.
As a dealer I welcome people to come into my home and audition any and all of the speakers I have in stock.
If I have a good rapport with the client I would take a pair of speakers to the client's home to audition with his/her equipment IF the client showed me he was serious about purchase or had purchased other items from me.

IF it became a situation that I was investing a lot of time and trouble to bring speakers to the client's home and he was not buying anything then it would be proper for the client to pay for this service.

$500 to audition speakers sounds steep, but it could be a good value if one is considering a very high end speaker.

My last client who I took speakers to his home that he did not end up buying paid me $100 and I was fine with that. I asked him for $50 which did not even cover my time and/or gas, but he gave me $100 on his own goodwill.

I would never charge for demo in my showroom, but it is a lot of work to take a pair of speakers into a client's home and set them up for the client to demo.

It should boil down to the relationship with the dealer, and both dealer and client should act in a fair manner in my opinion.
This guy is taking a whole new and creative way of driving himself out of business. Wasting Time?? Just how long is the line out his door and down the sidewalk. Is it a nude model doing the demo? When nI bought my last speakers I narrowed it down to three model/brands and they were at three different store. I would have been out 1000.00 at 2 of the stores. I am not getting married I am just buying audio gear. Maybe this guy should come up with a toll fee for his web site as well. If he has a sign prescribing this policy he is a fool. If he doesn't maybe markphd has a point. I do know a few dealers that have told me they have had to "fire" a few customersbecause they are pests and never buy. Or the audition takes place in his store and the individual buys here on AudioGon or some other internet outlet. I can't blame him for putting a stop to that. I am in retail sales myself and on 100% commission, I jknow what is to make the sale for someone else. This maybe an isolated policy enforcement for certain people that frequent his shop. That being the case I would say hmmm maybe he has a motive. But if it general policy for everyone. He's a kook and will be soon free to do many things that don't require money.

Well I may be wrong but I would guess that If you really were interested in those speakers and the dealer really thought you would buy them at a pre set price. I would bet he would let you demo them for free.

Since you have been an agon member for quite a while I am guessing that he knows you are not likely to buy from him anyway.

Tell me I am wrong.
That is one of the crazier things I have ever heard of. Run don't walk out of that store.
Viridian - perfectly said.

This day and age, dealers should be quite excited to have someone (speakerkicker or not) coming into their showroom and expressing ANY interest at all! Just forces them to get off the internet or their ass and enjoy something. Music.
The 500.00 he was asking for wasn't for a home demo. In fact he never said a word about a home demo. He wanted 500.00 If I wanted to demo more than one speaker system. He said that his time is valuable and he should be paid for it. He said he used to do speaker demos all the time but the people would just go on the net and buy them cheaper or find them used. That's why he now charges the 500.00 demo fee.
NO Way!
As kurk tank says, the problem for High End dealers is the dreamers and tyre kickers. Too many of us go for demos for a mornings enertainment and a free coffee. As far as I am concerned, I never trouble a dealer for a dem, unless I am at least planning a purchase and FROM A DEALER. Having said that, tyre kickers are part of the landscape a dealer has to live in, I would have thought. If you do'nt like it, find another job.
There is an excellent retailer of very very Low FI in the uk, selling kit for next to nothing, Richer Sounds. They are always helpful, no trouble with dems. They have a big notice in their stores
" The customer is alweays right. Even when he is wrong, the customer is always right"
$500 for speaker listening?

Then, just tell him you wanedt to hear those Myrtle block footers, not the speakers.

… so to date, he’s tallied up what…. One of those fees? Or is it none? I’d vote for the latter.

I wouldn’t pay $500 in Monopoly money to listen in the store for 10 minutes or less to any speaker… amp… etc.

Ridiculous! Out right rude too. You sure you haven’t irritated this guy somehow? Does he have a sign up which says as much? Or does he just pull that stunt on unqualified time wasters? If he doesn’t have a sign up indicating such practices, it’s probably personal.

Without posting such business policies, and making it up as he goes along, I’d post the name and location of this business and said policy, online. Just so other’s would have a chance to drop by their bank prior to experiencing any inconvenience or embarrassment while at the store… sort of a public service notification, so to speak…. Then send him an email with a link to the post.

Business men like that do need our support, and we should let them have it.
I just visited some relatives in Dayton Ohio. As I always do in new cities, I shop for vinyl and try to scope out audio I don't have access to at home. I went into Hanson Audio and met Kevin. I stated my circumstance and intent was to listen (I never said buy) to some equipment I had only read about before in the Hi-Fi mags. He seemed glad I was there and asked if I had a couple of hours, which I did. He auditioned equipment in four different rooms (including $30,000 Focals) and even allowed me to help carry some speakers/stands from the showfloor downstairs to setup and listen (Thiels, I believe). We discussed what we both heard differently and liked/disliked. I had a great time and heard some terrifc stuff (I was truly enamored with the Pathos/Dunlevy setup). He also provided directions to the record store and said if I found something good, bring it back and could check out the analog equipment. Kevin said his job wasn't to sell, but to educate about audio. He certainly taught me about a place I'd drive seven hours to spend my audio money. Thanks Hanson Audio.
In my opinion that is a deal breaker; I would even think of calling the speaker manufacturer and dropping a dime on the dealer; I don't see how a manufacturer would support this sales approach;just my opinion though.

I heard a similar story from another traveling A-goN'r concerning Hanson Audio in Dayton, OH. Interestingly enough, I'm only an hour away from Dayton and I had never heard of Hanson.

I think we need to invite Kevin and company to join our Cincinnati Audio club. We've got more than a few BUYERS here in Cincinnati and I'm sure there are more in Dayton. It would be great to do something to help out a dealer of this calibre.


Please let us know the name of the dealer so I can be sure not to waste MY time visiting him. If I wanted to pay to audition speakers I would try several I.D. brands... after all aren't you "paying" to audition them by returning them at your expense ?
Take the $500 and invest it in a trip to Denver this fall for the RMAF. There you can audition as many speakers as you like, talk to the designers and leave feeling like you got your money's worth.

What happens if you don't like any of the speakers in the dealer's arsenal? You just handed over $500 and leave a fool.
I would respond with: "While I will may pay you $500 for a bit of YOUR time, I expect the same treatment, I want $200/hr for my time while I am in your store. So you already OWE me $100. Fork it over!
Some good points are brought up on Mt10425's post. Dealers are representing the manufacturer's line and i assume it is at their discretion to demo stock for out of towners who are upfront and honest with their intentions. I have found several dealers in other cities who are "team players" so to speak and look at the larger picture of promoting the line and sacrificing a little of their time,providing they have it,to introduce someone to a new product.
Getting to the real point -Find out which speaker lines are being carried by this dealer -contact those companies and detail this policy to them. I bet the next time you go in there will be no "kill fee" for auditions and hopefully a better attitude- this is the kind of stuff that drives these manufacturers nuts and drives customers away from snotty dealers like this. Take the time and contact these people. You will be doing everybody down the line a favor. The consumer still has the last word!
Would I pay to audition? No

Do I see where the dealer is coming from? Yes

I wouldn't waste a dealers time to set up speakers if I already knew I was going to buy used. Instead, buy the speakers used and audition them at home to see if they are keepers. Pack em up and sell them for a marginal loss, or perhaps a profit if they aren't your cup of tea.

If the speakers are already set up and you want an audition, it should be no charge, but if the dealer has to go out of his way to setup and position two large full range speakers and he knows that there isn't a sale, then his time is wasted.

I bet this policy is based on the customer as others have mentioned. However, I would find another dealer if you are a repeat customer and this policy still applies.
When i purchased my first wattpuppies i went to the store and ended buying both used on audiogon and also a new pair of 7's from the dealer. You just never know when i buyer might change hhis mind and buy new. Sometimes a good salesperson can turn lookers into buyers!

As far as buying a car without driving them isnt the same as speakers. I have purchased all kinds of speakers over the net without ever hearing them. If you buy them right enough you wont lose much if you decide to sell them in the future anyway.

I live in Lansing Michigan and the vast majority of the speakers I am interested in are miles and miles away

The dealer charging $500 to auditon speakers ought to get out of the business. Sounds like he is on his way as we speak!
Agree with Tvad. Wait for the "going out of business, everything must go" sale, and then strut in there with your best sh*t-eating grin.
It's only a "waste of time" of the salesman if there is an opportunity cost associated with me auditioning in a B&M store. The store is open. It is staffed. If one is not interfering with a revenue or goodwill generating activity, then there is no "waste of time". I will not interfere in an opportunity for them to demo equipment or make a sale.

On the very rare instance I actually step into a B&M store, I make it very clear that I'm just checkin' out what's new, and not interested in purchasing. I do believe that it is completely unethical to demo locally and then buy used on-line.

I would never purchase from a dealer that charged to evaluate his goods. I go out of my way to avoid bad business practices - I drove 4 1/2 hours to buy most of my gear at list price to avoid a dealer that was only 30 minutes away (and may have even discounted).
If he had every speaker you could buy then it might seem less insane but I can't help thinking

'What if you don't like any of the speakers he sells?'

Would you lose your $500.

Let's say you really liked a Thiel speaker another dealer has and he has some speakers in the same price range but doesn't sell Thiel. After listening, what if you preferred the Thiel but now you are forced to buy a speaker you think less of.

It's absurd.
Hell no! Nobody locks me into anything! Cars, coins, stereos, hookers or anything else. Money IS the most important thing... period... There will always be something else (maybe better) for sale. Maybe the items for audition aren't as good as they are bragged up to be, and the seller is using the deposit for an excuse, to take the place of wasted time. I'll waste my time or anyone elses, before I waste my money. Time may be money to some, but SAVED money is more valuable than time that hasn't happened yet. Good luck to all!
Giggsy is right. If I had a nickel for every beer I ever drank, I'd go out and buy beer with it.
I could see charging your credit card as a damage deposit, and refunding the money if the speakers are returned "on time" and undamaged. There is some risk for the proprietor in releasing his inventory - especially heavy, highly finished pieces of furniture with some delicate moving parts.

This thread has nothing to do about a home audition. I don't know why people keep bringing that up.
You had better choose that first speaker pair wisely or come back later in a
No sir.
I bet he's got people standing in line for a deal like this lol
Maybe thats the only way,he can get rid of you.Sometimes
salesman and dealers if you dont drive nice cars,they
wont entertain you at all,I have experience that many
times before,I cant imagine paying $500 just to audition.
TVAD is right,here in ILLINOIS many audiostore are now
out of business because they dont know ,what good costumer
He sounds like he should be in the transmission repair industry. What happens if you agree and then discover that you don't like any of the speakers? Does he get to keep your money? I wouldn't be wasting my time with a dealer having that type of sales attitude and I would without question let everyone I knmow to avoid this establishment like the plague.